Members of the nation’s largest psychiatrists association were shocked when a prominent member of their group was assaulted at their San Francisco convention by a man police said is homeless and has a history of mental problems, the San Francisco Chronicle says.
The apparently random attack near Union Square last week was a graphic illustration of San Francisco’s homeless problem for attendees of the American Psychiatric Association’s annual convention. Many said they were surprised by the legions of people living on the street. “It seems to be tragically representative of what’s happening these days,” said Marcia Goin, president-elect of the APA. “Those who need psychiatric care don’t have it readily available.”
The victim was Dr. Geetha Jayaram, an associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and scientific program chair for the conference. Knocked unconscious, she spent a week in San Francisco General Hospital.
Police arrested Aaron Matthew Hull, 33, who has no local address and has a history of being detained for psychiatric evaluations.
“It’s kind of shocking,” said James McNulty, head of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. “I’ve been walking around the hotels and up the hill to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was very disheartening.” Long before the attack, the APA had planned a news conference to publicize past and future threatened cuts to what the group’s leaders called the nation’s “crumbling mental health system.” More than 27 million people with mental health problems are facing “personal health care disasters,” they said, because of Medicaid and state funding cuts to mental health programs.